UFC 271 just added a massive fight. MMA Junkie reports that two of heavyweight’s hardest slugging athletes are now set to face off in what will almost certainly be a feature booking for the PPV portion of the card. Derek Lewis is set to take on Tai Tuivasa alongside the rematch of middleweight champ Israel Adesanya and former title holder Robert Whittaker on February 12th.
The ‘Black Beast’ is fresh off a first round KO over Chris Daukaus, back at UFC Vegas 45 on December 18th. That fight presented a perfect bounce-back opportunity for the 36-year-old, following a 3rd round TKO at the hands of Ciryl Gane back in August. After the fight, Lewis made it clear that - at least for the immediate future - he wasn’t interested in taking more 5-round headlining fights. Fortunately, it looks like the UFC is happy enough to meet that demand with this all-action booking.
For ‘Bam Bam’ this serious step up in competition comes on the heels of a four-fight win streak, with his latest being a second round KO over Augusto Sakai at UFC 269. It’s been a strong return to form for the Aussie, who started his UFC career with three straight victories, before losing back-to-back-to-back bouts against Junior Dos Santos, Blagoy Ivanov, and Sergey Spivak. A win here would likely put the 28-year-old AKA talent in the immediate heavyweight title picture.
Whether or not the same can be said for Lewis is somewhat hard to tell. Alongside his apparent disinterest in taking five round fights is the fact that he is one of the rare men in the heavyweight division who can claim a victory over Francis Ngannou. However, if Ciryl Gane wrests the belt from the champ on January 22nd, the path back to title contention for Lewis looks a lot more difficult.
UFC 271 is set to take place at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX. Alongside the middleweight title fight main event the card is expected to feature a top contender’s bout between Jared Cannonier and Derek Brunson. The card will also play host to the last fight of women’s mixed martial arts pioneer and former UFC title challenger Roxanne Modafferi, as she faces rising top prospect Casey O’Neill.